Trade and tariffs

[image] Container ship Napier.

Our work on trade and import tariffs makes it easier for New Zealand exporters to trade with other countries, and maintains fair market competition.

Trade barriers

Trade barriers may be created by rules, including policies and regulations, put in place by governments. They can make it costly or difficult to export to a particular market. You might experience these as ‘red tape, ‘roadblocks’ or ‘costs of doing business’.

The barriers can arise with any type of export from food to digital goods and services.

Examples include:

  • administrative procedures
  • quantity restrictions (such as quotas)
  • licensing requirements
  • privacy requirements
  • board director requirements
  • price controls
  • subsidies
  • product labelling requirements
  • phytosanitary or technical regulations and standards
  • procurement rules
  • data storage requirements

Help available to break the barriers

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and other government agencies can help with trade barriers. We may be able to reduce, resolve or even prevent them from happening. That might be by holding government to government discussions – where officials talk through the issues with overseas agencies. Or it might be through longer-term free trade agreement negotiations.

Some barriers can be cleared up quickly, but others can take years to resolve. It depends on their nature and the willingness of the foreign partner to sort them out. Some may never be resolved for reasons beyond New Zealand’s control.

Sometimes these trade barriers exist for good reasons – for example, regulations to protect public health or the environment. In those cases, foreign governments may agree that New Zealand’s regulations provide equivalent protection, reducing the need to go through two processes. Or they may improve their regulations so they meet their purpose without impeding free trade.

Who to contact


If you’re a manufacturer, and you’re facing regulator restrictions on your exports such as standards, rules in selling to foreign governments, or other restrictions blocking you from exporting, contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Email |

Other agencies

Other types of exporters should contact the relevant New Zealand government agencies for help with trade barriers.

Education services

If you export education services, including teaching international students in New Zealand or overseas, and face barriers such as licensing requirements, investment and foreign ownership restrictions or qualifications recognition, contact Education New Zealand for help.

Email |

Website | Education New Zealand

Services and investment

If you are a service provider or investor and encounter barriers such as foreign equity caps, data storage requirements or procurement rules that are unfairly preventing you from exporting your services offshore, get in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) for assistance.

Phone | MFAT Exporter helpline 0800 824 605

Email |

Website | Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Food and primary industries

If you’re facing trade barriers for your food or primary sector exports – for food safety and standards or animal welfare – contact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Phone | 0800 00 83 33

Email |

Website | Ministry for Primary Industries: Exporting

Customs help

Customs can help with advice on a range of export issues including border clearance issues, tariff classification, and rules of origin. Contact New Zealand Customs.

Email |

Trade barriers clearing house

For additional information on barriers to trade; for trade barriers not covered above; or you are unsure where to register your issue, the below site can help. Inquiries registered will be directed to the agency best able to assist.

Website |

Tariffs in New Zealand

Duties called tariffs are placed on some imported goods to protect New Zealand manufacturers. Find out what imported goods currently have tariffs.

Read more…

Trade environment

A look at the framework and systems to support New Zealand manufacturers and businesses to trade with other countries.

Read more…

Trade remedies

We administer New Zealand's trade remedies to maintain fair levels of import competition for domestic manufacturers.

Read more…